He attended Chancellor"s School in Hertfordshire and gained a Bachelor (Honours) in English and Media from the University of Southampton in 1988.
He worked as a reporter on local newspapers in north London before beginning his radio career in 1990, presenting and reporting for the British Broadcasting Corporation Radio Five magazine show The Mix. He has presented numerous programmes and series on British Broadcasting Corporation Radio 4 including The Sports Programme, The Cultural State, The Fixers, Kaleidoscope, Stealing Beauty and Pick Of The Week. He has also made features and documentaries for Radio One and Five Live and has written about art and cultural issues for publications including The Observer and The Art Newspaper.
John Wilson is one of the regular presenters of Front Row, the Radio 4 arts programme.
He specialises in music-related interviews for the programme and has interviewed artists such as Morrissey, David Bowie, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Quincy Jones, Noel Gallagher, Bernie Taupin, Kate Bush, Ray Davies, Peter Gabriel and Noddy Holder. From 2012 he has presented his own dedicated music programme on Radio 4 called Mastertapes, where musicians are invited to discuss a career-defining album in front of a live audience.
Guests have included Wilko Johnson and Richard Thompson. In 1995/96 he also edited the pioneering internet magazine Trigger.co.uk.